Senators on West PH Sea collision: ‘A huge insult’ to Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 13, 2019   •   2872

Several senators have condemned the reported collision of a Chinese vessel and a Filipino vessel on Sunday (June 9), deeming it ‘a huge insult’ to Filipinos.

Sen. Joel Villanueva called the actions of the Chinese crew as irresponsible after they left the 22 Filipino crewmen in the West Philippine Sea.

“We strongly condemn the irresponsible actions of the Chinese vessel’s crew. Saving the lives of fellow seafarers should be top priority regardless of nationality or flag. The incident shows the need for greater accountability and enforcement of international laws in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in his statement.

READ: Locsin files diplomatic protest vs China after West PH Sea collision

Senators Franklin Drilon shares the same sentiment with Senator Panfilo Lacson. They are both questioning the friendly relationship between China and the Philippines.

Senator Lacson calls for a talk between the country’s leaders.

“This incident calls for a leader-to-leader talk. As I said, nothing short of serious punitive action by the Chinese government against those responsible can convince us of a real friendly relationship between our peoples,” he said.

According to Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea- University of the Philippines Prof. Jay Batongbacal this is not the first time a Chinese vessel hit another country’s fishing vessel.

“Marami itong beses na nangyari sa Vietnam binabangga ng mga Chinese vessel iyong mga Vietnamese fishing vessel, (It had occurred numerous times in Vietnam where a Chinese vessel hit a Vietnamese fishing vessel)” he said.

Batongbacal also seeks accountability for what happened. He said that the Filipino crewmen should be given compensation.

“Kung hindi tayo aalma, kung palalampasin natin ito baka ang susunod na diyan lahat ng ating mga mangingisda diyan sa West Philippine sea ay gaganyanin din, babanggain, iha-harass hanggang sa umalis na tayo sa West Philippine Sea, (If we will not protest, they might also target other fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. They might harass us until we leave the West Philippine Sea)” Batongbacal added.(with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Kindergartens, primary schools reopen as Vietnam eases virus restrictions

UNTV News   •   May 11, 2020

Kindergartens and primary schools in Vietnam took children’s temperatures at the gates when they re-opened on Monday (May 11) after a months-long closure over the coronavirus pandemic, following last week’s partial re-opening of other schools.

With just 288 infections and no deaths, the Southeast Asian nation has seen no community infections for nearly a month, putting it on course to resume activities sooner than most others in the region.

Medical staff could be seen taking the body temperatures of students and having them wash hands with sanitiser at the entrances to several kindergartens in Hanoi. Staff enforced safe distancing for student’ seating arrangements during class.

“The kids were being kept at home for three months and it stressed the adults out. It felt weird, very difficult to describe, because the kids were just doing everything in the house, while the adults were in the same situation, as everybody stayed in the same house…so we were looking forward to putting them back in school,” said Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, just after dropping off her granddaughter at a Hanoi kindergarten.

The school re-opening is Vietnam’s latest step in lifting virus curbs, although international commercial flights and dance clubs and karaoke bars remain banned.

Schools for older children reopened partially last week. (Reuters)

(Production: Thinh Nguyen, Minh Nguyen)

Vietnam lifts coronavirus quarantine in Hanoi commune

UNTV News   •   May 6, 2020

Vietnamese authorities lifted quarantine in a rural commune in Hanoi on Tuesday (5 May), 28 days after placing the area under isolation.

The Ha Loi commune, a floral and vegetable farming area, some 20 kilometres from downtown Hanoi, recorded Vietnam’s 243rd coronavirus patient on April 6, and was put in lockdown 2 days later.

As soon as barriers were removed at midnight, hundreds of residents in the area came out, chanting, cheering and waving flags to celebrate what they described a “victory and liberation over the Covid-19 outbreak”.

At a ceremony taking place at midnight on Wednesday (May 6), officials announced that all 2,700 households, with a population of 11,500, in the commune are free of the virus.

Khong Minh Tuan, Deputy Director of Hanoi’s Centre for Disease Control, hailed it “a great success”.

Despite ending the quarantine, Hanoi authorities still identified Ha Loi commune as a high-risk area. Residents have been asked to limit their movements until May 11, as well as practice social distancing, and wear face masks.

Even though Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s poorer nations, its efforts against the virus, praised at home, have ensured its tally of infections is lower than those of many neighbours.

Vietnam has registered a total of 271 coronavirus cases and has reported no deaths. Its proven infection rate is lower than any regional nations except Myanmar and Laos, where testing has been limited. Over 30,500 people have been quarantined, and 261,000 tests have been carried out so far. (Reuters)

(Production: Thinh Nguyen, Minh Nguyen)

Chinese Embassy slams Hontiveros over reparation claims for damages in West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Embassy did not take kindly Senator Risa Hontiveros’ claims that China owes the Philippines at least P200-B in reparations for the ecological damage it has caused the West Philippines Sea reef system during the past six years of its reclamation activities.

Hontiveros, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said such amount could be used to help affected families and improve the country’s healthcare system amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Her claims, she said, was based on a study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute.

In response, the Chinese Embassy called such remarks by Hontiveros as ‘ridiculously absurd and irresponsible’ and was made “for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains.”

The Embassy added that “China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea” and so the latter commits “to continue to provide our support and assistance” to the Philippines.

Hontiveros, on the other hand, said: “It is more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region.”

Hontiveros added that China cannot claim to be a friendly ‘neighbor across the sea’ when it has continued its land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” the lady senator argued.

READ: DFA files two diplomatic protests against China

On Wednesday (April 22), the Philippines filed two diplomatic protest against China – one for its creation of new districts in the disputed territory in the WPS and for its alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr. MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

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